This one is actually in response to a question we had, but it is definitely a useful topic deserving of a post. Online shopping has hit all time highs. With services such as Amazon Prime virtually eliminating shipping costs, it is often more convenient and almost as fast to shop online. But how do you know your information is safe while doing so? While there are federal laws that protect credit cards used online, nobody likes to go through the hassle or violation of having their credit card information stolen. Here are a few tips that everyone should know when shopping online.
- Think Security. Remember - S means Security. When you go to punch your credit card number into a website, have look at the address bar and make sure that it reads https:// as opposed to simply http://. The “S” at the end of the http stands for security, and it means that the website you are on has invested in security. It means that the transaction between you and the website is encrypted and you are safe. It also means that you, as the consumer, are protected by a warranty against fraud. While this security and warranty do vary from certificate provider to certificate provider, and is not always fool proof, you can still have confidence in this security measure. At the same time - NEVER enter your credit card into a site that does not have the “S”. This is really one of the best things to keep in mind. For more on this have a look at our previous post on SSL.
- Don’t use your debit card. When you are shopping online, use your credit card not your debit card (even if it is a debit Visa or MasterCard). Your debit is protected by different laws then your credit card. Additionally if fraud occurs with your debit card, the money in your account can get tied up during the fraud investigation, you are also protected from this when using your credit card.
- Keep your anti-virus and browser up to date. Your anti-virus works by recognizing virus definitions. Makers of anti-virus software are always updating these to keep ahead of the latest threats,keeping your anti-virus and browser up to date you go a long way to protect yourself from online threats.
- Activate your cards extra level of security. Both Visa and MasterCard have added layers of security to protect you while online. Visa calls theirs Verified By Visa and MasterCard calls theirs MasterCard SecureCode. Both of these programs add a layer of security by adding a code that only you and your financial institution know. Both are easy to enroll in and both are well worth the peace of mind.
- Keep a separate card for online purchases. As CNET states in their blog “For those who want to keep online purchases completely separate from everyday credit card transactions, prepaid cards are one option. They allow you to load a set amount of money at the time of purchase. The advantages are plentiful when it comes to using a prepaid card for online shopping, but the big one is that even if the card’s details are compromised somewhere along the chain, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be taken.“
- Never give more information than is required. Online purchases will ask for 4 basic things: Credit card number, Expiry Date, Code on the back (not always), and a shipping address (sometimes). They should never ask (and you should never give) your Social Insurance Number (Social Security Number). There is no situation ever that they should need this.
- Never give your credit card number in an email. Again - there is NEVER a situation when on online merchant will need this. If you get an email from a merchant asking for this treat it as a scam. If there was any sort of issue with your purchase, they will refer you back to the site.
- Don’t store your credit card number. Often sites will ask if you want to store your credit card number for faster purchase next time, say no. It may take a few extra minutes to complete a purchase, but it is well worth the peace of mind.
When it comes to security, it really comes down to common sense. One last thought, if you are on a site and it feels fishy, go somewhere else. It is never worth it to shop on a site that may compromise your security.